Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

Charles Thompson

CHARLES THOMPSON. Among the eager home seekers who invaded the region of Meade County in February, 1885, were Charles Thompson and his wife and children. They reached here with an abundance of hope and courage but with practically no material assets, and now that it is possible to look back over an experience of thirty years it is evident that they had about as many trials and adverdities as beset others who came with them or about the same time, but Mr. Thompson had those qualities which enabled him to stay and endure, and his present fortunate circumstances are undoubtedly the reward that he completely deserves.

He was born in Harrison County, Indiana, September 14, 1853. He represents a family that has been in America for several generations. His great grandfather, John Thompson, was an Englishman, and on coming to America settled in Virginia, then went to Kentucky, where his son John, our subjects's grandfather, was born, and there the old pioneer died. John, the second, moved to Indiana and there married Miss Rohl, of Pennsylvania German ancestry. Their children were: Joseph, Floyd, Hardin, John, Mrs. America Hicks, Mrs. Mary Cunningham, Mrs. Katie Thompson and Sindicy, who married Patrick Tobin.

The father of Charles Thompson was Hardin Thompson, who was born in Harrison County, Indiana. He received very little education, being a student in those pioneer log cabin schools whose greased paper windows and hewed log benches have been so frequently described in the literature of that period. He spent his life as a farmer and was a republican in politics. He died a number of years ago, when about seventy-five years old. His widow, who still lives in Washington County, Indiana, bore the maiden name of Elizabeth Pennington, daughter of Walter Pennington. Their children were: Charles; Lee, of Waurika, Oklahoma; John, of Winfield, Kansas; Floyd, of Floyd County, Indiana; Annie, wife of Jane Rippey, of Harrison County, Indiana; Amanda, who married John Wire, of Washington County, Indiana; George, who died in Indiana at the age of eighteen years; Media, wife of James Neely, of Sumner County, Kansas; Ella, who died in Sumner County; Katie, of Louisville, Kentucky; and William H., who is in Kansas.

The country schools of Harrison County, Indiana, gave Charles Thompson his early advantages. In November, 1877, at the age of twenty-four, he married Miss Viola Phillips. Mrs. Thompson is a daughter of James and Elizabeth (Hayes) Phillips. Her father, who was a United Brethren minister, moved to Harrison County, Indiana, from Muskingum County, Ohio. He died in Harrison County about 1874 and his wife in 1878. Of their children Mrs. Thompson was the oldest. Her sister May married Rev. Mr. Heddin, her brother Hayes died in Indiana, her brother Eugene lives in Illinois, and her sister Miss Della is a resident of California.

When Mr. and Mrs. Thompson came to Kansas they had two children. A complete record of their family of children and grandchildren at the present time is as follows. Alda, the oldest, married Homer Sumpter, of Colorado, and has two children, Verdie Mae and Bernice; Arthur, lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming; Etna is the wife of F. J. Weidner, of Colorado, and has one child, Monzelle; Nellie is the wife of Lloyd Ogle, of Big Sandy, Montana; the youngest of the family, Winnie, is a student in Southwestern University at Winfield, Kansas. Rilda Monzel, the second daughter, married Lemuel Kiger. At the age of twenty-four she was struck by lightning and killed. Chester A., twin brother of Arthur, settled in Montana, and died at the age of twenty-two.

On arriving in Meade County in February, 1885, Mr. Thompson entered a pre-emption on the Osage lands in section 12, township 34, range 26. After proving it up he homesteaded in section 31 of the same township and range. At that time the county was being rapidly settled. Only a few years later discouragement took the place of hope and eagerness and more people were trying to get away than desired to remain. As Mr. Thompson looks back upon that trying period he feels that he would have gone too could he have made the proper disposition of his affairs. His pioneer home was a dugout soddy on his pre-emption, and he lived in a similar place when he entered his homestead. For about four years he and his family lived "half underground." The equipment which he brought to Meade County consisted for the most part of a good team, two or three cows, some of whose posterity he still owns, a breaking plow and a harrow. He had already had about a year's experience of Kansas life, having spent that time in Sumner County, from which locality he drove into Meade County, arriving here with a face capital of $1.30. Like others he started farming and in 1885 had a good crop of corn from the sod and this was followed by another reasonably good yield. In 1887 the failures began, and for several years it was impossible to make a living from land alone. In this crisis Mr. Thompson resorted to freighting, breaking sod, cultivating and improving tree claims for absent settlers, and anything else that offered the chance of earning an honest dollar. He hauled freight from Dodge City to Englewood, but when the railroad built to the latter point he gave up this business. One season he returned to an eastern county and harvested as a means of supplying the family larder. Mr. Thompson was one of the early wheat growers of Meade County, but after a few years of success he lost his seed and having no funds to provide more he gave up wheat farming. The mainstay of his efforts for a number of years was cattle raising. When at the high tide of his work as a cattle man he had about 100 head of Shorthorns. As he prospered he began buying cheap land, and eventually owned over 1,000 acres. He gradually disposed of this and recently sold the remainder of his land, so that he is now really retired so far as farming is concerned. While in the country Mr. Thompson did much to improve his property and erected several sets of farm buildings. On his tree claim he set out a grove of timber that developed and grew astonishingly. His old sod house was succeeded by a frame structure and he also fenced and cross fenced his ranch. Since 1915 he has lived in Meade and has helped the forward growth and development of that town with the building of his own residence.

His only official service was as a member of the School Board of district No. 41 and later of district No. 22. As a republican he cast his first vote for Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876, and has never missed supporting the republican candidates at every presidential election.